Against Charity

I wrote my first book as a critique of charity work in Kolkata, India. I attempted a critique of western ‘charity’ workers helping those they saw as the ‘unfortunates’ in classic development colonial style – of the many ‘volunteers’ in Kolkata at the time, the majority worked for Mother Theresa but the ones I hung out with were at a clinic run by a long time medico Jack Praeger. Mostly I was attracted to this lot because they were not as pious as those who came for Missionary work, they drank and drugged their way around the banana pancake trail (backpacker tourism circuit) and ended up in Kolkata as a kind of default. Yet, it was an international charity, and about 95%, of them were from outside India, though with a few Indian doctors doing part time work. The organisation did help people, mostly street dwellers with injuries or leprosy sufferers who were not treated by hospitals because of poverty and stigma, and the limited capacity of the medical system in communist but undeveloped Bengal (undeveloped because the pro-capitalist national govt moved industry away from the then communist state). Ideally, the state would provide all social care, including organising social service programmes (that I would distinguish from charity). Westerners took pictures of themselves doing this charity work, and sent them home as postcards and so on, and increasingly the international support came and funded more westerners to come and do ‘the work’ of volunteering (it had become a stop on the tourist trail, even mentioned in travel guides). But this work was still what the state should do and increasingly it became clear that street people were in a way just a photogenic backdrop for the westerners self-promotion. Here, media imagery, including films, sold the exotic image of the poor of Kolkata to the West. Even feature films were made – for example City of Joy with Patrick Swayze – and endless documentaries about the anti-contraception, love them till it hurts, ‘wizened old saint’ Mother Theresa, who got high profile donations from famous westerners who made a show of being photographed with the poor of Kolkata. Ma T, as Christopher Hitchens put it, was interested in helping the poor die as Christians (in a majority Hindu state) while people like Ronald Reagan, and the Savings and Loans scandal millionaire who shall not be named, had their photos taken with the poor and promoted their ‘good deeds’. So, the issue of representation was huge, but even more, the reasons why these people did ‘charity’ work had to be discussed – in a larger frame, pictures of their giving was more of a gift for themselves, self-promotion of their goodness. Gift and counter-gift – cf Mauss, The Gift; Derrida, Given Time etc. They could just as easily have donated to the medical facilities of Bengal, or quietly worked for industrial contracts to promote the economy and medical facilities, hospital development and inclusive policies, but no, the communist state was not their cup of char. I would think we need a very strict distinction to be made between charity and social service work. I think the issue of representation of children and the poor is always political, that exoticism and exploitation in imagery is real, and that integrating support for the blind, the poor, children etc must be organised through structures like local govt, community and institutions etc. What is most questionable here is what happens when ‘foreigners’ take over and think they can ‘help’ but really they are promoting their own self-image and unexamined values. Only some of this will be relevant now, for sure, but I wanted to rethink my experience and confirm the need to not call everything charity – better organised forms social service work (red summer) seem radically different to what international charity often becomes. And yes, in media studies, the issue of how we represent ourselves and ‘the poor’ (photogenic poverty) is without doubt still a significant concern.

Netaji aggregator post

I do not want to attract new madness, the old madness does well enough. Here, a summary of various items of fun fact* where *I use the term in the sense of fake news facts*:

Much respect to Netaji, I do of course wish (any of) this was true.

However, some years ago, on the trail of Subhas’s house here in HCMC, which we found, which still exists, though in a dilapidated state, someone was in touch and linked to a number of photographs of an Indian looking gentleman who is pictured at a Chinese pro Vietnam ceremony (can be discounted, read the ‘mobile phone photo story abdout ‘Evidence shows’ – link below) and a picture of the delegation to Paris a few years later allegedly as a member of the talks, with *confirmation* by the famous Madame Binh – head negotiator. Well, most likely not, even if the person does seem to have the correct features, but all other accounts suggest a plane crash. Though Taiwan airport logs no such crash – during a war, go figure – thus pouring aviation fuel on the rumour mill.

Me, personally, I am sure Subhas will return in the next few weeks and reveal that it is true he has been trading Cocaine in Vietnam, then living in China before walking across Tibet with Vikram Seth. Since then he has been living all this time as a sadhu in Varanasi and other parts of U.P., perhaps. Ha!

More likely is the French story that he died in Prison – the notorious Police Bot Catinat (lock up mentioned in Grahame Green’s Quiet American book) is not far from his house, and its the more likely tale really.

Here are the links:

Then, here are a few of the even more fun factoidifications of the endless rabbit hole that is Netaji studies:

Alive in Vietnam:

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/evidence-shows-netaji-could-have-been-alive-in-vietnam-much-after-his-official-death-250577.html

Dead in Vietnam:

https://www.getbengal.com/details/did-netaji-subhash-bose-die-in-a-vietnam-prison

Netaji in China

https://www.oneindia.com/feature/what-happened-to-netaji-was-he-in-red-china-1879577.html

The Taiwan aircrash never happened:

https://www.tribuneindia.com/2008/20080203/spectrum/main2.htm

and perhaps the best yet, also well documented : https://thewire.in/history/netaji-subhas-chandra-bose-gumnami-baba

Indeed, probably worth citing the entire post as, well, surely we can only wish this were all true, what a hero (somewhat unfortunately its only in The Wire, ah well):

“He lived incognito to perform some covert activities in Asian countries. He led an Asian Liberation Army which fought in the Korean War of 1952. The Chinese army that attacked India in 1962 was led by him. He wanted to emancipate India from the western influence but Indians could not recognise him, so he ordered the army to retreat. In Vietnam, he was guiding Ho-Chi-Minh in his fight against US imperialism. He went to Paris in 1969 to mediate for the Vietnamese in the ‘Paris Peace Talks’. Before that, he visited Tashkent to help draw up the Tashkent Pact between India and Pakistan on January 10, 1966. Lastly, he turned his attention to his native state and was in north Bengal in 1970-71 guiding the ‘Mukti-joddhas’ in their liberation war for Bangladesh.

https://thewire.in/history/netaji-subhas-chandra-bose-gumnami-baba

_____

Finally – never finally of course – the tributes continue in an effort to actually recognise the achievements of the man.

_____

Me, I most like the story of him beating the black hole monument plaque with his slipper, as mentioned in my article https://www.academia.edu/17780537/THE_BLACK_HOLE in *Strangely Beloved* by the wonderful Nilanjana Gupta.

Thanks to Sarunas for the latest diversion into this quick sand trinketry.

Another Kind of Concrete – Koushik Banerjea

being ill is my excuse for catching up with novels, but I interrupt the stream of hackery to give a progress report on this as its the best book I’ve read in ages, despite that I am half way through, and despite the book persuading me that no child should ever be entrusted to the English school system (no disrespect for teachers as they have no time to teach – the ancillary roles of school librarian and caretaker the only sites of care, time, hope, as is the case so often). Despite even, maybe because of, the cantankerous voice, so resounding with alliterated simile, each page has its puns, jibes, jabs and jaw, I’m only half way through, but wanted to note the progress (and how mixing College Street and Canning Town makes strange landscapes familiar). The middle section on the mother of K is really astonishing, not just because of the angular history that has been there all through the book – I’ll perhaps later track all that, I could have a guess at most of the missing footnotes – but because of how brilliantly the mother’s inner life has been rendered, intimately understood, lovingly portrayed, so that at present, half way through, I’m thinking contemporary literature here takes a step forward at last from the all fine but almost formulaic earlier epochs of – 123 sounding off down the years: – Rusdhie, Kureishi, Kunzru… or Lessing, Coetzee, Smith… for sure beyond, Hornby, McEwan, Self … but don’t take my word for it, I’m still reading it – here is the author himself snapshotting a London bus in Lewisham on a particular day in the summer of ’77 – and this is just a taster…

Opening of Another Kind of Concrete.

Opium and Political Economy in Bengal

On why I think Marx’s writing style is misrepresented by the all-too-dour and serious commentators on Capital – you know, the famous ones published by big presses or with online lecture series… :) and anyway wanted to remember and article where I selected a few choice quips by the old beardo. The following is from an essay I called ‘Marx in Calcutta’ for City, in which I had been explaining a path Engels almost chose that would have meant Bengal, not Manchester, was key:

‘Marx’s commentary on Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘awful solemnity’ in a speech on what Marx calls, in an article for the ‘New York DailyTribune‘, the ‘quid pro quo’, and welcome,‘national rebellion’ of India in 1857 (Marx, NYDT, 14 August 1857).’

and

‘Marx’s articles in the Tribune on EIC opium are where he most clearly expresses his fascination with and condemnation of Clive, ‘the robber baron’ (NYDT, 8 August 1853).’ All this surrounds opium, a trade Clive helped introduce, ‘In Marx’s journalistic commentary he exposed ‘flagrant self-contradiction of the Christianity canting and civilization-mongering British’ in their efforts to ‘affect to be a thorough stranger to the contraband opium trade, and even to enter into treaties proscribing it’ (Marx, NYDT, 28 September 1858). This is the definition of hypocrisy, since despite also forcing ‘opium cultivation upon Bengal’ (NYDT, 28 September 1858) and arranging ‘for private ships trading to China’, the regulations governing this shipping carried a provision which imposed ‘a penalty to them if freighted with opium of other than the Company’s own make’ (NYDT, 28 September1858).’

All this is sort of what I meant in the ‘funny’ quip department, but the bit mentioning “Capital” I was looking for that directly speaks to funny slurs is later in my essay – sorry, could not locate it right away, but eventually did. Here goes:

“[Marx’s] ‘Critique of Political Economy’, is more than a subtitle of the book; it can be read as a sustained commentary on apologists for EIC extortion. His targets are EIC employees, James Mill, John Stuart Mill, and that ‘sycophant and fine talker’ Macauley, or immediate bourgeois critics of the EIC, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke. Then the critique takes as prime targets the apologist ‘learned professors’, those abstemious ‘penitents of Vishnu’ (Marx 1867[1996], 593), who train the EIC officer corps at Haileybury College, ‘population’ Malthus and Sir Richard Jones, both professors of political economy at the EIC training school. Alongside some anonymous—to Marx—texts on the benefits of the East Asia trade to Britain and the like, these are the majority representatives of the political economy he critiques.”

All the paras above are from my 2018 essay ‘Marx in Calcutta’, City, 22:4, 490-509 – you can easily find a pdf on the download page – ^^. But, lest you think I’d neglect the old dart’s opioid pandemic:

The opium trade of course was not something lost on workers in the UK, and Marx also mentions Godfrey’s Cordial which was fed to children so mothers could work. I had searched for a bottle for a while (reseearch purposes) and found an OHIO version of one on ebay – pictured – and where the following decription graces the page:

“Up for auction is a labeled medicine bottle advertising “Great Seal – Godfrey’s Cordial – The Styron-Beggs Co. – Mfg. Chemists – Newark, Ohio” with the original matching box. The label on this bottle and the box read in part “each fluid ounce contains one and three-fifth grains Opium” and then gives directions for use and “Antidote….. tickle palate with feather”. This bottle is embossed “Great Seal The Styron Beggs Co. Newark Ohio”, measures approx. 5″ tall x 2″ wide x 7/8″ deep and is in excellent condition with no damage. The box is printed with nice blue and red lettering with a skull and crossbones graphic and also is in excellent condition as shown. View the pictures carefully as they are part of the description. We will show or mention any notable defects. Please email if you have any questions or need clarification so you can be satisfied with your purchase . We will combine shipping for multiple wins if possible. Guaranteed Old & Original as is everything we sell. PLEASE SEE MORE LABELED MEDICINE BOTTLES (Nice grouping with similar ingredients) THAT WE ARE RUNNING NOW IN OUR OTHER AUCTIONS. Items sold with contents intact are for collecting/display purposes only and are to be handled with care. They are NOT to be ingested or used. By bidding and buying any item with its content you assume full responsibility, agree to these statements, and will deem Nostrums’; Quackery harmless in the event of any problems or accidents should they occur. For those of you who follow our auctions we WELCOME you back. For those of you who are new to eBay or have just found us you will not be disappointed with the service we provide and we hope you are successful in adding to your collections. At the beginning of each year we bring FRESH offerings of UNUSUAL items to eBay and we hope you bookmark us for future auctions for years to come. THANK YOU!” https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/godfreys-opium-cordial-label-bottle-504983523

Meanwhile, Mrs Winslow’s stay stoned in bed soothing syrup – fine for those who can afford velvet curtains and bedding – a little more serious for mums who had to work.

The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation

Reposted from three years ago because – the stats tell me – at least one copy has been downloaded every day this month. Either its a dedicated bot that won’t give up, or someone put it on a reading list again. I never get royalties for this these days as the addresses had not been updated, and anyway Zed was soled to Bloomsbury who are my current publisher, so I assume it will sort out (and I hope it won’t be a debt :) meanwhile, good to see the digital version, which is a huge file of middling quality for reasons explained below, is getting seen. More power to you. Thanks.

rumour-cover125 years ago my first book was typeset and laid out in the days before electronics – well, an electric typesetting machine was plugged into a wall, but no digital file was produced. Nevertheless, I had crossed out the digital rights clause in my contract with Zed so I own this. At last some kind anonymous soul has bootlegged it and set digital copy free on the nets, though its a large scanned file and the bibliography was left off (I’ve made a rough scan of the biblio but that too is a large file). Nevertheless, notwithstanding, and such like phrasings, the book is still one of which I am proud, if nothing else for trialling a way of citing tourist backpacker-informants, for its stuff on photography and maps and for the reviews it got (and indeed keeps getting discussed, for example on films – see diekmann2012) and especially for its critique of charity and what charity is for. In the context of do-gooder well-meaning hypocrisy, the effort of charity workers serves wider interests as well as their own, and only marginally any individuals they help – who would be better helped in better funded state-run facilities if the funds extracted through business-as-usual colonialism were, you know, made as reparations for the several hundred years of colonial plunder. Ah well, the critique stands up, the charity industry sadly thrives, second only perhaps to weapons in terms of so-called development, writing books does not yet always change the world as much as you’d like (and no, I did not ever think a book would single-handedly stop Mother Theresa, but…).

I would welcome new readers.

Download The Rumour of Calcutta here:  [John_Hutnyk]_The_rumour_of_Calcutta__tourism,_ch

Biblio here. Rumour biblio

And this retrieved by Toby:

Weekend cruise to Serampore, Chandernagore

I really want to go on this today

: << this is an article from The Telegraph newspaper in Kolkata>> :

The 11-hour ride, which will have its inaugural run on February 14, will cost Rs 350 and will have one-and-a-half hour stops

The “European Settlement Boat Ride” cruise vessel

The “European Settlement Boat Ride” cruise vesselTelegraph picture


Kinsuk Basu   |   Calcutta   |   Published 13.02.21, 01:32 AM


A cruise on the Hooghly will take visitors to Serampore and Chandernagore every Saturday and Sunday.

The 11-hour ride, which will have its inaugural run on February 14, will cost Rs 350 and will have one-and-a-half hour stops at the former Danish (Serampore) and French (Chandernagore) settlements.

The vessel will leave Millennium Park jetty at 10am and return at 9pm. It has a well-stocked library, an open deck and an on-board tuck-shop for quick bites. Tickets can be bought from the Millennium Park jetty.

The “European Settlement Boat Ride”, as the cruise has been named, will halt at Serampore around 1pm after nearly an hour’s journey from Calcutta and offer visitors an opportunity to lunch at The Denmark Tavern. 

Located on the riverfront, the tavern was opened in 1786. It provided lodging and meals for “gentlemen passing up and down the river”, as mentioned in an advertisement in the Calcutta Gazette.

One can see Serampore College, established in 1818 by English Baptist missionaries, and visit Serampore Johnnagar Baptist Church, founded in the early 19th century. The other sites to visit are St Olav’s Church, Baptist Mission Cemetery and the Danish Cemetery.

The cruise will leave Serampore around 2.30 pm and reach Chandernagore after an hour. During the hour-and-a-half halt at this erstwhile French colony, tourists will get to see the Strand.

The Strand is a 700-metre-long tree-shaded promenade along the Hooghly with old French mansions and other colonial buildings along the way. One can also visit the Dupleix Palace, which houses the Chandernagore Museum and Institute.

The cruise is being organised by the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC), in collaboration with the Danish Cultural Institute and the Oxford Bookstores.

“The Europeans first came on a ferry. So this cruise will be an ideal way of seeing the European settlement in Bengal,” said Thomas Sehested, the director of the Danish Cultural Institute India.

“The cruise will give people a glimpse into the European history in India which is often undermined,” said Rajanvir Singh Kapur, the managing director of WBTC.

“It’s good to have such initiatives that make people understand history and appreciate global cultures,” said Priti Paul of the Oxford Bookstores.

Back cover copy for the 25th-anniversary edition of Rumour of Calcutta?

Highly unlikely, but if there were to be a collection of quotes for such an edition, this fine example would do very well as a back cover quote alongside the old ones. It is from a very fine-looking book by Nabaparna Ghosh – A Hygienic City-Nation: Space, Community, and Everyday Life in Colonial Calcutta 2020 Cambridge. I am excited to read the rest of the book, as I’ve only seen an early part so far. Of course, I mean the second part of this paragraph, though great to again be in the company of Arturo, and earlier Chris Pinney and others. This is on page 9:

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.17

 

The book itself – out in stores soon I believe (you can have a sneaky peak and read about 20 pages on Google books).

Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.53Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.05Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.17
Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.50.17Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.05Screen Shot 2020-05-09 at 22.51.17

 

two Bengals

Somewhere I have a photograph of a piece of graffiti from Kolkata in the early 1990s. It shows three palms behind a brick wall on which is painted “Like the two Germany’s Bengal should be reunited”. (Cannot find it right now but will post it when I do).Of course, there is other news from India today, tragic violence in Delhi, a buffoon invited a buffoon to address 100,000 and other atrocities, but the good news was buried on page 6 as usual, and yes I know that is not what this railways initiative means, but 150 metres of track to go sounds like a useful development (for the record, the first partition of Bengal was proposed in 1905 and resisted, the second in 1947 we call partition and it was brutal, with ongoing effects, not least on the Jute Industry which lurched from collapse to collapse). Now this minor item of return.

From the telegraph today 22 Feb 2020

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 11.18.23

Is it the wrong time to say Make Bengal Great Again, and get some hats?

Of course, there already is a hat – but it is from Cincinnati…

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 11.29.49

Sundarbans, Climate, Tigers, Law.

Liquidity of the Sundarbans:

If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will

This forms the first part of a new research concentration for me, and owes much to colleagues at Jadavpur Uni now battling the BJP monstrosity. This sort of work relies upon the University remaining an open, critical, creative and thinking place. And such works as discussed here – more than three, a whole series of works are considered, reaching back to when I first met the history and philosophy folks at Jadavpur – are indicative of what remains that is good in the university, despite all that is happening.

50 e-prints for those quick off the mark, here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/AVPTDBBTQNKUBBVHPHSV/full?target=10.1080/00856401.2019.1663884

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 08.57.06

Jadavpur University and the pecuniary investment jealousy rag (need some infrastructure surely).

I don’t have cause to say so often enough, but I consider Jadavpur a second alma mater for me (just as second breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so is what I have learned at Jadavpur over 30 years sustaining). There is a long background behind this below, but those with the ability to read between the lines can make the necessary analytic dot joinings…

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 19.32.59

 

In a widely shared post on FB Somak Mukherjee writes passionately about what is being done to Jadavpur:

Friends and colleagues there [at JU]; I applaud your sense of integrity and courage. Stay safe. The machinery of politics is not merely random and arbitrary, but peculiarly random in its vengeful rhetoric.

Absolutely wonderful to see a large turnout yesterday for the protest procession. Current or former students, kudos to you.

A humble request in anticipation of a rising narrative, maliciously aimed at the students community of the university: that Jadavpur’s “aimless and disorganized environment/ politics” is the result of a decline in academic standard”. This rhetoric will find a large following/support in a rising section of Bengali bourgeoisie welcoming unprecedented cultural regression in our city/state. Political IT cells will ensure this narrative finds wide currency in tv shouting matches/whatsapp forwards/facebook communities.

Nothing is further from the truth. Students/teachers/scholars there already know this. But please combat this narrative with consistency and conviction.

Jadavpur University is still among the top five public universities in the naton: an astonishing feat considering the comparative but consistent against state public universities in India in the last several decades. When looking at rankings, please consider the fact that IITs lack the diversity of disciplines taught here. There are Depts+schools+centers= almost 60 academic units alone in this university, outnumbering JNU. This university always punched above its weight in the national arena with a self assured recognition of being an underdog. It champions underdogs going beyond the tired binary of success/failure in meritocracy.

I had to do a little bit of research for an article about the recent academic progress of JU. Some facts:

a) Under a specific scheme of RUSA ( Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan) aimed at 10 state public universities, JU has been a rare exception in timely utilization of the funds disbursed in the last 4 years.

b) There are only two state public universities getting the coveted Institution of Eminence (IOE) tag: Jadavpur and Anna. If the 1000 Crores indeed get disbursed over the next five years, it can potentially double the university budget ( Proviso: this fund, apparently, cannot be allotted for additional posts: a MHRD criteria. Bizarre.) for research and overall infrastructure. Again, JU qualified despite the odds, countering indifferent and arrogant educational bureaucracy at the center. At least three major newspapers in only the last weeks have published confused and misleading news reports about 1. Amount of funding requested and, this is more crucial, 2. the proviso of state government providing the supplementary funds, attaching negative comments from state government officials. Again, apparently there is no proviso that the full funding is tied to supplementary funding from “bankrupt” state govern An independent verification and clarification of this might be useful.

3. 2018 FET placements have been astonishingly good.

Story 3 was tucked away in the corner of page 8 of a Bengali daily recently. Story 1 was hardly reported. Story 2, as I mentioned, has been reported in a confusing and self contradictory manner. My larger points: this fits a narrative of intention of the mainstream India ( English or vernacular) about which specific optics about the university should be fed to public discourse. The spectacle of passionate protest, while incredibly effective, can also take time in realizing the double edged sword of the media rhetoric. This is why the awareness of the institutional progress can be quite useful.

This university was once “unfashionably” nationalistic in pre-independence time. It did not care when critics railed against the university enrolling revolutionaries as mature students. This university employed one of the greatest 20th century Bengali poets despite his lack of formal ‘qualifications’. This university made a 25 year old founding HOD of its economics department. Then, it was made fun of for its suburban obscurity. Yet it thrived: because of its gloriously scattered intellectual currents relished the accusation of suburban subversions with delightful irony. Times changed: hell, KP took over jurisdiction. But JU remained sufficiently downmarket for the elite of the ‘proper south’ and yet marvelously dreamy for suburbia kids like myself.

I know these are deeply cynical times, but I will stick my neck out and say: best days for Jadavpur are yet to come. If you agree then good: strength of optimism can be quite revolutionary itself. If you disagree, then disregard this rant as an inevitable outcome of suburban longings. Jadavpur was never Calcutta’s university. It was/and still is, a gateway university.

Sumanta Banerjee Marx adda

In one part of the recently translated Spooky Encounters, Sumanta Banerjee chats with the picnicking ghostly Marx and Engels about Indian food in London:

‘Fish-and-chips has almost disappeared from the scene. Its exclusive position has been now taken over by chicken-tikka-kebab!’

They glanced at each other in sheer astonishment and said, ‘Really?’

Moor spoke with his usual fervour: ‘We must get to taste your food. But can we find the genuine stuff here? Most likely we will have to go to youir Calcutta to sample them.‘”

P25

I am so very pleased to see this and would have happily used it as a preface to my essay ‘Marx in Calcutta’ in City. Seems like we have always been tempting Marx with Mishti Doi:

https://hutnyk.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/marx-in-calcuttacity2018.pdf

The Fantasist of Calcutta has a plaque

Atrocities and alibi’s for dirty colonial deeds of the ‘robber baron’ Clive and his mates. Here is a plaque for John Zephania Holwell, who wrote his dramatically claustrophobic survivor tale several months afterwards as a kind of post-factum justification for the subsequent slaughter at Palashi. He goes on to be Governor and erects a monument to his own heroism, which survives 40 years and is forgotten until Mark Twain asks about it – thanks Mark. Pah, the monument is rebuilt – and still stands today, though moved to the grounds of the nearby church, partly because Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and crew slapped it with a  slipper, and chisels.

Hollwell plaque

Thanks to Claire who found this at King’s Guy’s Hospital. A plaque to the apologist of Palashi. I suppose it is too minor an atrocity – one among many – for the Rhodes must fall group to be deployed, but some annotation is surely necessary.

This chapter may explain why this is such an outrage. The man built a monument to his lies.

 

 

Slum tourism

I am gathering material for a review of this area and found a dissertation that discusses The Rumour of Calcutta:

“Hutnyk (1996: 10) also states that the massive tourism and infrastructure development in India and above all in the major cities might require brutal readjustment and restructuring for adapting to the West. Tourism experience in India is hybrid and mixed-up. He also suggests that without Mother Theresa and the Lonely Planet guidebook, Kolkata would have maybe been portrayed as less impoverished and run-down. Its reputation revolves around the main themes of poverty, urban decay and overcrowding (Hutnyk, 1996: 55) stemming from tourism literature, media and government and other official and institutional reports.

Slum tourism as a rather recent phenomenon in India might portray this day-to-day routine in an urban environment and might help to abolish stereotypes about the working poor, urban decay and extreme poverty. Hannam and Diekmann (2010) argue that slum tourism can nevertheless be potentially damaging for both visitors and residents if they happen on a superficial, commodified and non-mutual basis. Rolfes (2009) claims that there is only one professional and regular slum tourism operator in Mumbai which is Reality Tours. Thus, Rolfes’ (2009) analysis of tour operations in Mumbai is based on one tour operating business and might be too one-sided.

However, Hutnyk (1996) described and analysed his personal experience in Kolkata with backpacker tourists and volunteer tourists coming, watching and leaving the poor people of the city and calling their medical help and volunteering ‘sick tours’. He is one of the first to have mentioned the questionable morality that is involved once tourists come to see poor people in Third World countries already assuming the participative “voyeuristic consumption of poverty” (Hutnyk, 1996: 11) because the poor are always and unavoidably the subject of tours in India, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Almost ironically he mocks these very tourists coming to Kolkata to see ‘the extreme’ which is expected to be unusual and different to what he calls “the rumour of poverty” (Hutnyk, 1996: 20). In line with Hutnyk (1996), Hannam and Diekmann (2010) …

[Dunno if mocking is how I would describe the critique, but…]

Nevertheless, very much enjoying the thesis and hope it was turned into an article: Well done Linda Klepsch, 2010. A critical analysis of slum tours: Comparing the existing offer in South Africa, Brazil, India and Kenya,

UNIVERSITE LIBRE DE BRUXELLES
INSTITUT DE GESTION DE L’ENVIRONNEMENT ET D’AMENAGEMENT DU TERRITOIRE
FACULTE DES SCIENCES

The Rumour of Calcutta – digital book

rumour-cover122 years ago my first book was typeset and laid out in the days before electronics – well, an electric typesetting machine was plugged into a wall, but no digital file was produced. Nevertheless, I had crossed out the digital rights clause in my contract with Zed so I own this. At last some kind anonymous soul has bootlegged it and set digital copy free on the nets, though its a large scanned file and the bibliography was left off (I’ve made a rough scan of the biblio but that too is a large file). Nevertheless, notwithstanding, and such like phrasings, the book is still one of which I am proud, if nothing else for trialling a way of citing tourist backpacker-informants, for its stuff on photography and maps and for the reviews it got (and indeed keeps getting discussed, for example on films – see diekmann2012) and especially for its critique of charity and what charity is for. In the context of do-gooder well-meaning hypocrisy, the effort of charity workers serves wider interests as well as their own, and only marginally any individuals they help – who would be better helped in better funded state-run facilities if the funds extracted through business-as-usual colonialism were, you know, made as reparations for the several hundred years of colonial plunder. Ah well, the critique stands up, the charity industry sadly thrives, second only perhaps to weapons in terms of so-called development, writing books does not yet always change the world as much as you’d like (and no, I did not ever think a book would single-handedly stop Mother Theresa, but…).

I would welcome new readers.

Download The Rumour of Calcutta here:  [John_Hutnyk]_The_rumour_of_Calcutta__tourism,_ch

Biblio here. Rumour biblio

And this retrieved by Toby:

Smuggling – of tea to Scotland?

The Commission of Customs Scotland to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, reporting on the subject of trade with India, in 1812, examined Earl, Osborne and Ferrier (traders) on the question of smuggling ‘tea’. The answer is instructive – smuggling will increase if EIC ships are permitted to trade in Scottish waters. That is, lets be clear, English ships smuggling ‘tea’ to Scotland. Recall that these ships mostly carry other goods than tea, but in smuggling, the trick is not to declare. Records reported elsewhere – I think in Judt, have to check back – indicated some half a million pounds worth or goods a year was ‘pilfered’ from vessels in the Thames at London – that’s half a million of the declared consignments. The need to read between the lines – what does other ‘East India Goods’ really mean, and what does it not mean? The remittances off the books was a healthy trade for, in Feldbaek’s examples, for Danish shipping out of Serampore.

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Restored 18th century Danish tavern to be inaugurated today

[JH comment: now if you were plying the illicit opium trade on behalf of dodgy East India Company officials, you’d also need to stop by the Tavern and deal. I guess]

DanishTavernopenFrom; The Milennium Post

by Nandini Guha | 28 Feb 2018 12:20 AM

http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/restored-18th-century-danish-tavern-to-be-inaugurated-today-287209

Kolkata: An 18th Century Danish tavern that was in ruins, has been finally restored into a 120-seater café and lodge overlooking the Ganges at Serampore, by the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Denmank. The heritage property will be inaugurated on Wednesday by Indranil Sen, the minister of state for Tourism and several ambassadors representing the Nordic countries. The tavern dates back to 1786. Restoration work was taken up by heritage architect Manish Chakraborti and his team in 2015. “A lot of European vessels used to ply on the river during that time. They used to spend a night in transit at the tavern. When we took over restoration though, it was in ruins. The roof had collapsed and there was debris everywhere. Now the old building has been restored to its old classical beauty,” Chakraborti told Millennium Post. The cost of restoration has been borne by the National Museum of Denmark (Rs 3.5 crore) and the state Tourism Department (Rs 1.5 crore). The Tourism Department is presently looking for an operator to run the café and it is expected that it will be fully operational in a month. “The important thing is that the government is investing in a heritage building that has now been converted into a reusable commercial space. As far as the menu is concerned, the operator has to keep in mind that this is Serampore and not Park Street. The pricing could be similar to cafes like Flury’s or Mrs Magpie. And of course, it will be a boost for the state’s tourism prospects,” added Chakraborti. Chakraborti had earlier won a UNESCO award for restoring the 200 year old St Olaf’s Church in Serampore, again an initiative of the Government of Denmark and the West Bengal government.

http://www.millenniumpost.in/kolkata/restored-18th-century-danish-tavern-to-be-inaugurated-today-287209

City Requiem, outwitting paralysis to find ways to write anyway

Am pretty sure this page below is a kind of compliment, though it is an uneasy one. As I have said directly, never meant for there not to be many more inscriptions – how could I be the one to hold back the delude (apres moi?). Of course there should never be no reason to stop writing, just sometimes we could stop anthropologising (a moratorium on fieldwork!) and I always hope to write better, a forlorn task. Stereotypes-stereohypes, they keep getting back up again:

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From the book by Ananya Roy 2003 “City Requiem, Calcutta: Gender and the Politics of Poverty” Uni of Minnesota Press, which, despite my being cast as the paralyser, also ends with some beautiful lines that capture what I to was trying to do: ‘ my narrative of the city … can only be one of multiple and irreconcilable iterations’ Ananya Roy. As I think was expressed already in Ashis Nandy’s comment on the back cover of ‘The Rumour’.

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